From Arlene: Reflections From The Eye Of The Storm

From Arlene: Reflections From The Eye Of The Storm

Leadership | Posted by - April 12, 2016 at 12:30 am

I had dinner with some friends last week and they kept telling me how busy I was. I insisted that I wasn't and said I actually felt less busy than normal. In fact, I told them I felt quite relaxed and calm. To which they replied yes, but your normal is busy – you may feel calm, but you are always in the middle of a storm of activity.

It made me stop and think. If that's true then why do I feel so much less busy than before? And am I too busy? Doing too much? Too many balls in the air and plates spinning wildly. I've always been busy and likely in some form always will be. But there is an important distinction for me right now in just precisely how I am dealing with being busy. First and foremost, it seems less stressful for some reason. Having said that, I still have moments of being totally overwhelmed and feeling completely ill-prepared for what is on my plate. But these moments are increasingly rare and I am able to recover from them much more quickly these days.

Doing a lot of things doesn't necessarily equate to being productive, especially in relation to what is most meaningful to you.

So what has changed? If my level of activity is about the same, why do I feel less challenged and more in control? I think it has to do with a profound shift in focus. I can honestly say over the last few years I had a lot of busy activity going on that wasn't really getting me to my goals. My calendar was full – full of stuff that I felt obligated to do, but which didn't add any value to what I was striving for. My time was filled with making other people's agendas complete while ignoring my own. I saw it all as the price to pay for achieving more. I was wrong.

Doing a lot of things doesn't necessarily equate to being productive, especially in relation to what is most meaningful to you. Just like in business, measuring activity isn't a key to success. You need to measure the right activity and ensure that what you are doing is lining up with where you are aiming. Purposeful and clearly defined tactics always trump random activity and busywork.

So, again for me, life and work have mirrored themselves. I needed to take stock of myself as I did this past year and think hard about what I was doing and why. I needed to create a strategy for my life the same as I did for my business. Not a carved in stone plan but a goal that helped me to frame my activities in the context of what I wanted to achieve both personally and professionally.

When we take the time to do this in business it makes our days much more productive and meaningful. We know that all the effort and energy we are putting in to work is driving towards our vision. When we do this in life we realize that we can discard the things that don't truly matter to us, but yet can seem highly important because others expect them of us.

Doing what matters to you personally and professionally is the key to success, in life and in business. Spending time and energy keeping everyone else happy and saying yes to every opportunity is not fulfilling, it's draining. And it condemns you to a life that is unfulfilled.

I have learned that it's important to hang out with people who support you in life and business. People who want you to achieve your own goals and be happy being just who you are; cultivating these relationships naturally leads to a calming influence in our lives and work. Think about it. If we all just wished that for each other, wouldn't we all be in a better place? It's about helping one another instead of making demands on one another. Such a shift in attitude would help us find the time and energy to make ourselves fulfilled instead of expecting someone else to make us happy.

Life and business mirror each other every day. Finding calm and peace amid the maelstrom of business and life comes, ultimately, from within. Achieving serenity is about being able to shed the stress of the moment, realizing that ultimately you put yourself there and you can solve the problem. In other words, failure isn't final.

I am likely as busy as always. But I have never been calmer and less busy. That's the beauty of a plan that springs from a self-awareness of doing what fulfills you versus what others expect of you.

Tags: fulfillment, goals, meaning, productivity, self-awareness, vision, blog, arlene dickinson, perspective, time management

October 23, 2013 at 2:31 pm
This was an Eye opener. I am so guilty of this. Time to refocus. Thanks so much! Light bulb Moment!
Christopher Scott Morash
October 23, 2013 at 2:39 pm
Productivity is the result of your "wheels" being on "firm ground" while "spinning". (:
Dragan Cvijan
October 23, 2013 at 3:11 pm
As for me, I am reading it as it is writen for me. Thank you Arlene.
Susan Elford
October 25, 2013 at 5:39 pm
I love this article. It's as though I wrote it myself. I was just saying how less stressed I feel, yet I'm sure others would say I "look" as busy as ever. You have captured the seeming contrast of being "busy" while at "peace" perfectly.
Dawn Kotzer
October 25, 2013 at 10:25 pm
Almost imperceptible moments of Awareness between things on my plate do not add to the weight of my day...They flavour my day with appreciation.
Awareness that there are things I want to do for my self AND others helps me find a way to do so that restores equilibrium. The energy shifts.
Thanks for sharing this, Arlene. It makes me happy for you AND happy for me, too. :)
Christopher Scott Morash
October 28, 2013 at 12:41 pm
I will share this. Eliminating failures makes the successes you enjoy sweeter. This is easy. Just remember ; "If you're going to put all the time and effort into leading a horse to water, . . . take one that's thirsty" ! (:
Pat Mussieux
October 31, 2013 at 2:42 pm
Arlene, ahhhh, with age also comes wisdom. I am right with you when it comes to assessing my state of 'busyness' and alignment. Feels good to get a handle on it - feeling calm, yet productive. Thanks, as always, for all that you share - you are inspiring to us as entrepreneurs. I appreciate you.
Kermit the frog
November 3, 2013 at 12:12 pm
This is so very true for me as well! I have recently started to decline activities that have always come naturally to me because they have served to "cushion" the pressing associated with the real deal. The key for me is to decline with absolute grace and optimism, and the right confidante for accountability and confidence.
Mark Cowcill
December 13, 2013 at 5:34 pm
Always good to evaluate the difference between "business" and "busyness".........
Margaux Soriano-Dela Cruz
June 24, 2014 at 11:40 pm
Time is one of the many limits for those who are so busy juggling many different tasks. It's Overwhelm is fast becoming everyone's disease. I do agree that with proper planning, everything will fall into perfect place.
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